What Is Delirium Tremens (DTs)?

Delirium tremens is commonly known as alcohol withdrawal delirium, or AWD. It’s a form of alcohol withdrawal that impacts alcohol abusers that have drank heavily long enough for their brain and nervous system to have adjusted to the consistent intake of alcohol.

Much like other alcohol withdrawal symptoms, DTs can start appearing within a few days with symptoms still showing up to a week after. These symptoms can be reduced with a gradual reduction in alcohol consumption as stopping cold turkey could end up giving the user the full breadth of symptoms.

What Causes Delirium Tremens and What Should I Look Out For?

Substance abuse, whether it be with drugs or alcohol, leads to chemical imbalances in our brains and nervous system. Our bodies are able to regulate our internal systems to a state of homeostasis meaning everything is just as it should be.

When someone abuses a substance over long periods of time, our brains start to adapt and produce less of the chemicals being provided by the substance at hand. With alcohol, it acts as a depressant which lowers mood levels and energy. Once alcohol is no longer being ingested, our brains work in overdrive to try to make up the difference but can’t, which leads to feelings of anxiety and stress.

Heavy drinkers, primarily younger adult male drinkers, will have the most trouble avoiding DTs as they make up a large majority of problem drinkers. When we refer to heavy drinking, it means 15 or more drinks a week for men and 8 or more for women. A standard drink is:

  • 1.5 oz. shot of a liquor such as vodka or bourbon
  • 12 oz. can of beer
  • 5 oz. glass of wine
  • 7 oz. of malt liquor

How To Identify Delirium Tremens

Once the symptoms of DTs start, it’s impossible to ignore them. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms at home during a period of non-drinking, we encourage you to reach out to our team immediately for an emergency and confidential consultation to help set up assistance ASAP.

Not every symptom listed will be part of the experience but remember, the symptoms can last up to a week or more so make sure not to push it during recovery and risk making any of these symptoms worse. Delirium tremens can be seen physically as:

  • Sweating and nausea
  • Shaking hands
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired fine motor skills
  • Chest pains

Internal and mental symptoms include:

  • Confusion and delusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety and heightened sense of fear
  • Irrational thoughts and reactions
  • Insomnia

How to Handle DTs Safely

Quitting alcohol use is one of the most difficult substances to keep sober from due to how prevalent consumption is in our society. As such, it’s vital to seek help from a team of medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping those struggling with addiction regain their independence.

Working with our multi-disciplinary teams means you’ll get the care, compassion and treatment needed to not only overcome addiction, but to live a clean and sober life going forward. Don’t spend another minute fighting the battle alone. Schedule a quick consultation for a private one-on-one talk with our intake specialists to see just what America’s Rehab Campuses can do for you!